A Brooklyn woman who has been sober for three years needed a roommate. But alcohol would not be allowed in the apartment. Some people thought that was a joke.

When Shelby Cohen posted advertisements on Facebook for a new roommate in her Brooklyn apartment, she noted the most important details. She listed the bedroom’s dimensions, mentioned that there was just one bathroom, and noted nearby subway stations. But there was an important caveat for any potential roommate — no alcohol was allowed in the apartment.

“I did put it on my lease as part of the roommate agreement. I was like, ‘if anyone drinks, the agreement’s forfeited,’” Ms. Cohen, 31, said, though she noted that the addendum likely wasn’t enforceable.

Home is a sacred place for Ms. Cohen, who has been sober for three years. And whom she chose to bring into that space mattered. Concerns — a roommate stumbling home from a bar late at night or of Ms. Cohen opening the fridge to find a case of beer — were at the forefront of her mind during her search.

Large, floor-to-ceiling windows were a selling point for Ms. Cohen.James Estrin/The New York Times

The responses she received, Ms. Cohen said, ranged from the witty to the downright cruel. On Facebook housing groups like Gypsy Housing, originally formed to help artists find apartments or rooms, Ms. Cohen navigated a land mine around preferences.

“I want to come home to, like, a safe space,” she said, “a space that I feel comfortable in. I don’t want to have to open the fridge and see alcohol and have someone smoking weed in the apartment.”

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